Installation of the new playground equipment is underway at River Road Park in Bainbridge. The township purchased the equipment from Snider Recreation in October, which began installation at the end of December. Trustees plan to hold a formal ribbon cutting ceremony for the new playground in the spring.

BAINBRIDGE — With the equipment installation underway, township trustees opened discussions on a grand opening of River Road Park’s new playground, Kari’s Play World.

Service Director Jim Stanek told Bainbridge Trustees Monday that the installation of the equipment from Snider Recreation was progressing well. He said he anticipates its completion within the next two to three weeks, then the township can decide on signage and opening of the playground.

In 2019, the township had to raze the former playground at the park due to unsafe conditions and had since tasked a subcommittee with fundraising efforts for the new equipment.

The township set aside $80,000 for the purchase of the new equipment and $20,000 for drainage repairs. Trustees approved the purchase of the $156,000 equipment in October after meeting their match for donations, which included a $35,000 donation from the Friedman family.

The township named the park in memory of the late Kari Friedman, a Kenston High School graduate, who was killed in a tragic auto accident in Montana more than six years ago.

Upon completion, the playground could be opened up for use depending on state COVID-19 health and safety protocol, but trustees questioned whether the equipment should be closed off until a grand opening could take place with questions around the laying of mulch.

Trustee Jeff Markley asked Mr. Stanek if the contractors would lay down mulch right after the completion of the equipment installation, noting that if not, the township would have to fence off the equipment without the safety surface.

Mr. Stanek said he would nail down the timeframe for laying down the mulch, which is included in the township’s contract for the new equipment, and whether this step would wait for a grand opening of the new playground.

Trustee Kristina O’Brien noted that the mulch doesn’t have to wait for the grand opening, that the township could open the park for play now and hold a formal ribbon cutting later when they can gather all donors in a ceremony at the park.

“When the weather is nicer,” Trustee Lorrie Sass Benza added.

Mr. Markley noted with the playground opened sooner rather than later, he’d be happy that the service department wouldn’t have to “shrinkwrap” the equipment to keep it new for a grand opening.

Mr. Stanek said he’d report back after consulting the contractor regarding the mulch layout.

In other news, trustees approved the hiring of Jack Dorsky, a Geauga County resident and West Geauga High School graduate, as a part-time firefighter and emergency medical technician for the Bainbridge Township Fire Department. Mrs. Sugarman swore Mr. Dorsky in at the beginning of the meeting.

“We held an executive session and got a chance to meet Jack and grilled him incessantly,” Mr. Markley joked. “And he didn’t run out, so I think we’re good.”

Sam Cottrill started reporting for the Times in February 2019 and covers Auburn, Bainbridge, Bentleyville and Chagrin, Kenston, Solon and West Geauga schools. She graduated from Kent State University in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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